GONZALES — Fresh on the heels of the City of Gonzales receiving the esteemed 2022 Helen Putnam Award for Excellence for the Gonzales Youth Council’s Mental Health Service Action Project, the city announced the appointment of the 2022-23 Gonzales Youth Council (GYC).
This year 19 youth have been selected to serve on the GYC, including Youth Commissioners Sherlyn Flores and Luke Neagle; GYC Ambassadors Valeria Tinoco, Jozelyn Reyes-Vargas and Aliyah Castillo; and GYC Members Odalis Garcia, Joziah Uribe-Lopez, Anixia Davila, Betsy Preciado, Gabriel Rosas, Ernesto Santos, Alejandra Pinon Ruiz, Emily Mendez, Lizbeth de Leon-Santos, Vianney Martinez-Valdez, Edgar Teodoro-Saavedra, Angela Madrigal, Judith Valeria Zarate and Valeria Cardenas Pacheco.
The 2022-23 GYC has chosen to “continue focusing on mental health as their service action project and will also begin a new project, pedestrian traffic safety,” the city said in a news release.
Gonzales Youth Council is a youth leadership and development program sponsored by the City of Gonzales with support from the Gonzales Unified School District (GUSD). It is comprised of students from ninth through 12th grades and is chaired by the two Youth Commissioners, who each year interview all youth who submit applications and select the members for the Youth Council.
“The GYC program was created in 2013 to give a greater voice to youth and to provide a robust structure under which teenagers can actively participate in the community and its institutions,” the city said.
Youth Commissioners have non-voting seats at the city council and the school board, and they serve as a liaison between the Youth Council, city council and GUSD board. They attend city council and school board meetings on behalf of the GYC and make presentations.
The program provides youth civic engagement opportunities, leadership training and a sustainable/long-term learning environment by connecting youth directly with elected and executive officials throughout the city.
During the year, the Youth Council provides input into the policies and programs adopted and implemented by the city and/or the school district. Members review and analyze information, engage in discussions and advocacy, make recommendations pertaining to matters that impact youth and lead a community service action project that contributes to the betterment of the community.
Past service action projects that the GYC has been involved with include testifying before the city council on proposals of cannabis cultivation and manufacturing within the city limits, the development of a social host ordinance to restrict teen consumption of alcohol that was ultimately approved by the city council in 2017, and most recently their service action project focused on mental health resources for youth in the community.